Report: Kenyan Marathoners Accused of Paying Bribes To Lessen Doping Bans

Kenyan marathoners train in their home country. Photo: PhotoRun

Kenyan coach Paul Simbolei told The Associated Press on Sunday he recently informed police that three marathon runners from his country paid bribes to Athletics Kenya—the national track federation and governing body—in exchange for reduced doping bans.

Simbolei, who is based in the high altitude hotbed of Iten, claims that AK officials threatened to expose the aforementioned athletes as cheaters if they did not surrender a portion of their race winnings to them. The three runners remain unnamed as Simbolei has reportedly been keeping a low profile since going to authorities with the information, citing concerns for his safety.

That report follows the news that the IAAF Ethics Commission is investigating allegations from Kenyan prosecutors that David Okeyo, vice president of Athletics Kenya, along with two other officials, embezzled roughly three quarters of a million dollars in sponsorship money from the organization.

These most recent claims are in addition to the ongoing criticisms of Kenya’s virtually non-existent anti-doping program which came to light following a documentary by German television station ARD, which showed, in part, how easy it is for Kenyan athletes to secure performance-enhancing drugs.

Last week, Russia was suspended from international competition by the IAAF following the results of a WADA investigation into a widespread and state-sponsored doping program in that country. Dick Pound, who headed the investigation, acknowledged problems in Kenya at the press conference revealing the findings of the Russian probe.

“It seems pretty clear from both the ARD program and subsequent developments that Kenya has a real problem,” Pound said. “It has been very slow to acknowledge there is a problem. There is apparently some investigation going on as we speak. If they don’t do a good job then someone else will do a job for them.”

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